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Financial Crises

Financial Crises. In this section, you will learn:. common features of financial crises how financial crises can be self-perpetuating various policy responses to crises about historical and contemporary crises, including the U.S. financial crisis of 2007-2009

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Financial Crises

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  1. Financial Crises

  2. In this section, you will learn: • common features of financial crises • how financial crises can be self-perpetuating • various policy responses to crises • about historical and contemporary crises, including the U.S. financial crisis of 2007-2009 • how capital flight often plays a role in financial crises affecting emerging economies

  3. Common features of financial crises • Asset price declines • involving stocks, real estate, or other assets • may trigger the crisis • often interpreted as the ends of bubbles • Financial institution insolvencies • a wave of loan defaults may cause bank failures • hedge funds may fail when assets bought with borrowed funds lose value • financial institutions interconnected, so insolvencies can spread from one to another

  4. Common features of financial crises • Liquidity crises • if its depositors lose confidence, a bank run depletes the bank’s liquid assets • if its creditors have lost confidence, an investment bank may have trouble selling commercial paper to pay off maturing debts • in such cases, the institution must sell illiquid assets at “fire sale” prices, bringing it closer to insolvency

  5. Financial crises and aggregate demand • Falling asset prices reduce aggregate demand • consumers’ wealth falls • uncertainty makes consumers and firms postpone spending • the value of collateral falls, making it harder for firms and consumers to borrow • Financial institution failures reduce lending • banks become more conservative since more uncertainty over borrowers’ ability to repay

  6. Financial crises and aggregate demand • Credit crunch: a sharp decrease in bank lending • may occur when asset prices fall and financial institutions fail • forces consumers and firms to reduce spending • The fall in agg. demand worsens the financial crisis • falling output lower firms’ expected future earnings, reducing asset prices further • falling demand for real estate reduces prices more • bankruptcies and defaults increase, bank panics more likely Once a crisis starts, it can sustain itself for a long time

  7. CASE STUDYDisaster in the 1930s • Sharp asset price declines: the stock market fell 13% on 10/28/1929, and fell 89% by 1932 • Over 1/3 of all banks failed by 1933, due to loan defaults and a bank panic • A credit crunch and uncertainty caused huge fall in consumption and investment • Falling output magnified these problems • Federal Reserve allowed money supply to fall, creating deflation, which increased the real value of debts and increased defaults

  8. Financial rescues: emergency loans • The self-perpetuating nature of crises gives policymakers a strong incentive to intervene to try to break the cycle of crisis and recession. • During a liquidity crisis, a central bank may act as a lender of last resort, providing emergency loans to institutions to prevent them from failing. • Discount loan: a loan from the Federal Reserve to a bank, approved if Fed judges bank solvent and with sufficient collateral

  9. Financial rescues: “bailouts” • Govt may give funds to prevent an institution from failing, or may give funds to those hurt by the failure • Purpose: to prevent the problems of an insolvent institution from spreading • Costs of “bailouts” • direct: use of taxpayer funds • indirect: increases moral hazard, increasing likelihood of future failures and need for future bailouts

  10. “Too big to fail” • The larger the institution, the greater its links to other institutions • Links include liabilities, such as deposits or borrowings • Institutions deemed too big to fail(TBTF)if they are so interconnected that their failure would threaten the financial system • TBTF institutions are candidates for bailouts. Example: Continental Illinois Bank (1984)

  11. Risky Rescues • Risky loans: govt loans to institutions that may not be repaid • institutions bordering on insolvency • institutions with no collateral • Example: Fed loaned $85 billion to AIG (2008) • Equity injections: purchases of a company’s stock by the govt to increase a nearly insolvent company’s capital when no one else is willing to buy the company’s stock • Controversy: govt ownership not consistent with free market principles; political influence

  12. The U.S. financial crisis of 2007-2009 • Context: the 1990s and early 2000s were a time of stability, called “The Great Moderation” • 2007-2009: • stock prices dropped 55% • unemployment doubled to 10% • failures of large, prestigious institutions like Lehman Brothers

  13. The subprime mortgage crisis • 2006-2007: house prices fell, defaults on subprime mortgages, huge losses for institutions holding subprime mortgages or the securities they backed • Huge lenders Ameriquest and New Century Financial declared bankruptcy in 2007 • Liquidity crisis in August 2007 as banks reduced lending to other banks, uncertain about their ability to repay • Fed funds rate increased above Fed’s target

  14. Disaster in September 2008 After 6 calm months, a financial crisis exploded: • Fannie Mae, Freddie Macnearly failed due to a growing wave of mortgage defaults, U.S. Treasury became their conservator and majority shareholder, promised to cover losses on their bonds to prevent a larger catastrophe • Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, also due to losses on MBS • Lehman’s failure meant defaults on all Lehman’s borrowings from other institutions, shocked the entire financial system

  15. Disaster in September 2008 • American International Group (AIG)about to fail when the Fed made $85b emergency loan to prevent losses throughout financial system • The money market crisis Money market funds no longer assumed safe, nervous depositors pulled out (bank-run style) until Treasury Dept offered insurance on MM deposits • Flight to safetyPeople sold many different kinds of assets, causing price drops, but bought Treasuries, causing their prices to rise and interest rates to fall to near zero

  16. The flight to safety:BAA corporate bond and 90-day T-bill rates Corporate bond interest rate interest rate (%) Treasury bill interest rate

  17. An economy in freefall • Falling stock and house prices reduced consumers’ wealth, reducing their confidence and spending. • Financial panic caused a credit crunch; bank lending fell sharply because: • banks could not resell loans to securitizers • banks worried about insolvency from further losses • Previously “safe” companies unable to sell commercial paper to help bridge the gap between production costs and revenues

  18. The policy response • TARP – Troubled Asset Relief Program (10/3/2008) • $700 billion to rescue financial institutions • initially intended to purchase “troubled assets” like subprime MBS • later used for equity injections into troubled institutions • result: U.S. Treasury became a major shareholder in Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, AIG, and others • Federal Reserve programs to repair commercial paper market, restore securitization, reduce mortgage interest rates

  19. The policy response • Monetary policy: Fed funds rate reduced from 2% to near 0% and has remained there • The fiscal stimulus package (February 2009): • tax cuts and infrastructure spending costly nearly 5% of GDP • Congressional Budget Office estimates it boosted real GDP by 1.5 – 3.5%

  20. The aftermath • The financial crises eases • Dow Jones stock price index rose 65% from 3/2009 to 3/2010 • Many major financial institutions profitable in 2009 • Some taxpayer funds used in rescues will probably never be recovered, but these costs appear small relative to the damage from the crisis

  21. The aftermath: unemployment persists unemployment rate (left scale) weeks percent of labor force average duration of unemployment (right scale)

  22. The aftermath • Constraints on macroeconomic policy • Huge deficits from the recession and stimulus constrain fiscal policy • Monetary policy constrained by the zero-bound problem: even a zero interest rate not low enough to stimulate aggregate demand and reduce unemployment • Moral hazard • The rescues of financial institutions will likely increase future risk-taking and the need for future rescues

  23. Reforming financial regulation: Regulating nonbank financial institutions • Nonbank financial institutions (NBFIs) do not enjoy federal deposit insurance, so were less regulated than banks • Since the crisis, many argue for bank-like regulation of NBFIs, including: • greater capital requirements • restrictions on risky asset holdings • greater scrutiny by regulators • Controversy: more regulation will reduce profitability and maybe financial innovation

  24. Reforming financial regulation: Addressing “too big to fail” • Policymakers have been rescuing TBTF institutions since Continental Illinois in 1984. • Since the crisis, proposals to • limit size of institutions to prevent them from becoming TBTF • limit scope by restricting the range of different businesses that any one firm can operate • Such proposals would reverse the trend toward mergers and conglomeration of financial firms, would reduce benefits from economics of scale & scope

  25. Reforming financial regulation: Discouraging excessive risk-taking • Most economists believe excessive risk-taking is a key cause of financial crises. • Proposals to discourage it include: • requiring “skin in the game” – firms that arrange risky transactions must take on some of the risk • reforming ratings agencies, since they underestimated the riskiness of subprime MBS • reforming executive compensation to reduce incentive for executives to take risky gambles in hopes of high short-run gains

  26. Reforming financial regulation: Changing regulatory structure • There are many different regulators, though not by any logical design. • Many economists believe inconsistencies and gaps in regulation contributed to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. • Proposals to consolidate regulators or add an agency that oversees and coordinates regulators.

  27. CASE STUDYThe Dodd-Frank Act (July 2010) • establishes a new Financial Services Oversight Council to coordinate financial regulation • a new Office of Credit Ratings will examine rating agencies annually • FDIC gains authority to close a nonbank financial institution if its troubles create systemic risk • prohibits holding companies that own banks from sponsoring hedge funds • requires that companies that issue certain risky securities have “skin in the game” and retain at least 5% of the default risk

  28. Financial crises in emerging economies • Emerging economies: middle-income countries • Financial crises more common in emerging economies than high-income countries, and often accompanied by capital flight. • Capital flight: a sharp increase in net capital outflow that occurs when asset holders lose confidence in the economy, caused by • rising govt debt & fears of default • political instability • banking problems

  29. Capital flight • Interest rates rise sharply when people sell bonds • Exchange rates depreciate sharply when people sell the country’s currency • Contagion: the spread of capital flight from one country to another • occurs when problems in Country A make people worry that Country B might be next, so they sell Country B’s assets and currency, causing the same problems there • like a bank panic

  30. Capital flight and financial crises • Banking problems can trigger capital flight • Capital flight causes asset price declines, which worsens a financial crisis • High interest rates from capital flight and loss in confidence cause aggregate demand, output, and employment to fall, which worsens a financial crisis • Rapid exchange rate depreciation increases the burden of dollar-denominated debt in these countries

  31. Crisis in Greece • Caused by rising govt debt, fear of default • Asset holders sold Greek govt bonds, which caused interest rates on those bonds to rise • Facing a steep recession, Greece could not pursue fiscal policy due to debt, or monetary policy due to membership in the Eurozone

  32. Crisis in Greece Interest rates on 10-year govt bonds Govt budget deficit, % of GDP Greece Germany

  33. The International Monetary Fund • International Monetary Fund (IMF): an international institution that lends to countries experiencing financial crises • established 1944 • the “international lender of last resort” • How countries use IMF loans: • govt uses to make payments on its debt • central bank uses to make loans to banks • central bank uses to prop up its currency in foreign exchange markets

  34. SECTION SUMMARY • Financial crises begin with asset price declines, financial institution failures, or both. A financial crisis can produce a credit crunch and reduce aggregate demand, causing a recession, which reinforces the financial crisis. • Policy responses include rescuing troubled institutions. Rescues range from riskless loans to institutions with liquidity crises, giveaways, risky loans, and equity injections.

  35. SECTION SUMMARY • Financial rescues are controversial because of the cost to taxpayers and because they increase moral hazard: firms may take on more risk, thinking the government will bail them out if they get into trouble. • Over 2007-2009, the subprime mortgage crisis evolved into a broad financial and economic crisis in the U.S. Stock prices fell, prestigious financial institutions failed, lending was disrupted, and unemployment rose to near 10%.

  36. SECTION SUMMARY • Financial reform proposals include: increased regulation of nonbank financial institutions; policies to prevent institutions from becoming too big to fail; rules that discourage excessive risk-taking; and new structures for regulatory agencies. • Financial crises in emerging market economies typical include capital flight and sharp decreases in exchange rates, which can be caused by high government debt, political instability, and banking problems. The International Monetary Fund can help with emergency loans.

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